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Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.840 – Indirect Criminal Contempt

A criminal contempt, except as provided in Rule 3.830 concerning direct contempts, shall be prosecuted in the following manner:

(a) Order to Show Cause. The judge, on the judge’s own motion or on affidavit of any person having knowledge of the facts, may issue and sign an order directed to the defendant, stating the essential facts constituting the criminal contempt charged and requiring the defendant to appear before the court to show cause why the defendant should not be held in contempt of court. The order shall specify the time and place of the hearing, with a reasonable time allowed for preparation of the defense after service of the order on the defendant.

(b) Motions; Answer. The defendant, personally or by counsel, may move to dismiss the order to show cause, move for a statement of particulars, or answer the order by way of explanation or defense. All motions and the answer shall be in writing unless specified otherwise by the judge. A defendant’s omission to file motions or answer shall not be deemed as an admission of guilt of the contempt charged.

(c) Order of Arrest; Bail. The judge may issue an order of arrest of the defendant if the judge has reason to believe the defendant will not appear in response to the order to show cause. The defendant shall be admitted to bail in the manner provided by law in criminal cases.

(d) Arraignment; Hearing. The defendant may be arraigned at the time of the hearing, or prior thereto at the defendant’s request. A hearing to determine the guilt or innocence of the defendant shall follow a plea of not guilty. The judge may conduct a hearing without assistance of counsel or may be assisted by the prosecuting attorney or by an attorney appointed for that purpose. The defendant is entitled to be represented by counsel, have compulsory process for the attendance of witnesses, and testify in his or her own defense. All issues of law and fact shall be heard and determined by the judge.

(e) Disqualification of Judge. If the contempt charged involves disrespect to or criticism of a judge, the judge shall disqualify himself or herself from presiding at the hearing. Another judge shall be designated by the chief justice of the supreme court.

(f) Verdict; Judgment. At the conclusion of the hearing the judge shall sign and enter of record a judgment of guilty or not guilty. There should be included in a judgment of guilty a recital of the facts constituting the contempt of which the defendant has been found and adjudicated guilty.

(g) Sentence; Indirect Contempt. Prior to the pronouncement of sentence, the judge shall inform the RULE 3.840 FLORIDA RULES OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE RULE 3.840 134 defendant of the accusation and judgment against the defendant and inquire as to whether the defendant has any cause to show why sentence should not be pronounced. The defendant shall be afforded the opportunity to present evidence of mitigating circumstances. The sentence shall be pronounced in open court and in the presence of the defendant.

NOTE: Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure are modified and updated from time to time. To ensure you are viewing the latest version of Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.840 – Indirect Criminal Contempt, please visit the following website: Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure. In addition, you should consult with an experienced Orlando criminal attorney to understand how the Florida rules interact with case law, statutes, and other laws.

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